Thursday, August 9, 2012

Digging and Sharing: the Phenomena of Facebook

The AC is broken and it's so hot I walk around in my bathing suit and periodically hop in and out of the cold shower. Water drips from between my legs onto the tile floor and my three year old suspects me of peeing. It's then that I decide we are going to the beach as soon as possible. Miraculously my husband comes home early from work and by 6 pm we are on the beach, and I am looking at my sexy man talk about something with the spray of ocean water misting over his tan face. I am so grateful for him, his job and for where we live. I breathe and sigh and then cool off in the rushing ocean. It is perfect.

Our sons are digging holes in the sand. My eldest is digging one especially large, and by 7pm we have to put the kabosh on digging deeper and tell him to only dig wider. When he protests I tell him that some people have died from large sand holes collapsing around them. I hate to do this, scare him with tales of death, but I think sometimes sharing an example of what could happen is much more related than simply saying "because I said so." There is honor in an explanation. In hind site, there is creation in wonder and asking him what he thought would happen, is more effective. I usually do that...but sometimes velocity in communication trumps all. The beach is too wonderful of a place to linger on what bad things could happen. Just dig.

Later, as the sun is setting, the kids all jump in the massive hole and we let it collapse around them, cheating death, living on the edge, and they are filled with glee. Then Ben jumps up the stairs, leaving the beach declaring, "I dug the biggest hole ever! I can't wait to tell my friends!"

I realize that his experience and desire to share it is an inspired human creation. It's not necessary for his friends to know about this hole, it's not even important. But to him, it creates joy to share it, it enlivens him and deepens his experience of being fully alive. I realize that is what drives our connections in friendships, in Facebook and Twitter. Our desire to share, to connect, to have witnesses to our triumphs and pain has us feeling fully alive. It is an entirely new phenomena that we are sitting on the beach, watching a sunset and have the ability to share the moment with 700 Facebook friends. In all my 39 years, I never experience that before a year or so ago. I have always wanted to share moments like this with everyone and just never could before. Now I can. It becomes almost instinctual...great dinner, the idea to share it pops up, kids making funny faces or beautiful flowers...gotta post it. Sometimes I don't, I just live in the moment, but sometimes I do. People can be quite annoyed by this new trend, but I find it inspiring.

Tapping into the human desire to connect was genius on Zuckerberg's part, whether his idea or not. By executing Facebook, by creating Twitter, whomever did that, the creator's capitalized on a human desire that will never cease. We want to share, to celebrate, to shout our triumph's to the world, and now, via the internet we can literally do that. We want to be acknowledged or "liked", we want to connect with others, either from our past or make new friends. We want to complain and get sympathy and empathy and feel connected to our common disappointment in the status quo. Our ability to share that we have just dug the "biggest hole ever!" expands our joy just a little bit longer. My son doesn't get to post on Facebook yet, he just wants to tell his friends, but if he had an account, he would and there would be nothing wrong with that. Can you imagine the world of what kids would share? Big sand holes, brother's funny faces, photos of rear ends, super duper messes, mighty forts and miles of train tracks. By sharing, we get to share our world and peek into other's.We feel that our accomplishment is then known and heard throughout the greater world and we have made a mark, for a moment, that will float in the "cloud" forever. There is a sense of completion with sharing. And with completion comes the space to move on and create something new.

Although some think that Facebook and Twitter distract from human socialization, I suggest that they expand the very essence of socialization and connection. It is sheer delight to see that my friends in San Francisco, New York and England have read and "liked" or commented on a post. Not just because of me, but because of who they are to me. I get to connect to that, to them, to who THEY are, to their friendship and love for a tiny moment of the day, and that makes the moment HUGE.

Zen Honeycutt

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